Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell, 2010

I'm stealing this from Brie and Temerity Jane, because I am just not that creative with the wrap-up stuff. P.S. You're about to see one recurring theme. Fair warning.

Edited because I apparently was too tired to be posting and didn't make sense on some of my answers. Plus I forgot links.


1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? I pretty much did everything this year as a wife for the first time. I visited Baltimore, and met Salt. My sister and I threw our parents a party, rather than the other way around. I earned a Master's degree. I was asked to be maid of honor, not once, but twice.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't make resolutions, really, so I guess not. This year, I need to make some though: I need to get down about 20 more pounds, and I need to get off blood pressure medication.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope, but some fabulous bloggers, Amanda, Jenny, and Kallay welcomed their babies!

4. Did anyone close to you die? No

5. What countries did you visit? I didn't travel outside the U.S. this year

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? A baby, please.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Alright, confession time. Dan and I started trying to start a family on May 12th. Honestly, nothing else really stands out as a significant date. 2009 was big for us, and I'm okay with 2010 being a little more on the mellow side.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I graduated with my Master's degree in May.

9. What was your biggest failure? I'm feeling pretty bummed that there's no baby Kingston on the way at this point.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Sort of. I had a cold that lead to an ear infection that lead to the discovery of a severe vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure.

11. What was the best thing you bought? This is lame, but the aquarium for the turtles. Before we got it, I was cleaning their little container twice a week. I'm so much happier now. I can't think of anything else.

12. Where did most of your money go? Savings and paying off bills.

13. What did you get really excited about? Starting a family.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010? California Girls

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder?
About the same
– thinner or fatter? Fatter. :(
– richer or poorer?
Richer, in every way

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Traveling. I wish I could have gone to visit my sister in Seattle.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying

18. How did you spend Christmas? Like this

19. What was your favorite TV program? Old: The Office. New: Worst Cooks in America

20. What were your favorite books of the year? This is bad, but I can't think of one book I read this year, other than the South Beach Book and some random chick lit.

21. What was your favorite music from this year? I discovered Lady Gaga this year

22. What were your favorite films of the year? The Town, Despicable Me

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Went to dinner with friends and family. I turned 29

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A baby (see, recurring theme)

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? I discovered tall boots. Finally.

26. What kept you sane? My husband

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. I'm not always funny when I think I am.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good-bye, Christmas

Well, it's over. Another wonderful Christmas in the books. Dan and I had a great Christmas with my family. We spent Christmas Eve by ourselves, just like last year. We quite like our little tradition. We made a steak dinner, drank wine, opened gifts to each other, played Yahtzee and X-Box. We made spiked Serendipity Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, which I won in a blog giveaway. It was all fabulous. Then, we woke up at home Christmas morning. We snuggled, wished each other Merry Christmas, gave our girls Christmas cuddles, and packed up for Tucson.

Now when I was young, I wanted to open my gifts now. My sister liked to savor hers. She'd practically open hers slower just to cause me to panic. It drove me nuts. This year would have been Young Megan's perfect Christmas. We started our breakfast casseroles before gift opening. We had our traditional Christmas beer - it's usually Guinness, but we had something new this year instead. Another something new this year was my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Daniel, joining us. It was our first Christmas as a family of six, and it was fabulous to look around at so many happy Christmas faces. We took turns opening gifts, around and around in circles. After about an hour, the casseroles were done and we weren't, so we took a break to eat breakfast, then got back to it. Dan and I got an XBox Kinect from Daniel and Megan, gift cards to Chipotle, and clothes. My mom got Dan a red Rudolph nose. I got baking stuff, and a chocolate cook book. We also got something that 20-year-old me would have been pissed about: a Spot Bot. It's really awesome, trust me.

We spent the rest of Christmas day hanging out, preparing for dinner. My in-laws came down from Phoenix and it was great to see them for the holiday. We had a delicious taco bar for our Christmas dinner, and we were joined by more family. My grandparents, who usually spend Christmas with my very unjolly psychotic aunt, were able to join us for dessert. We built a fire pit in the back yard and spent the late evening talking and enjoying our company. It was a perfect Christmas Day.

The last couple of days were a blur of activity. Dan left Tucson for Phoenix Sunday afternoon after football. Between yesterday and today, Megan and Daniel ring shopped, florist shopped, phone, shoe, and cake shopped (with me, of course). We nailed down cupcake flavors, bouquets, and debated Megan's choice of two small wedding bands or one bigger band. She had a very productive week in Tucson in terms of the wedding, and they'll have only a few things to take care of on their next visit.

Now I'm home, enjoying some quiet that won't last long. The dogs are exhausted from 4 days in Tucson, and Dan's on his way home. Dan's brother, David, and his fiance, Alex, will be here in a few short days. We've got New Year's Eve plans with friends to figure out. They get married January 7th, so I'm sure they'll hit the ground running with last minute plans and arrangements, not to mention the family time with the Kingstons who will be arriving late next week. In the midst of it all is year-end close at work. I'm just hoping that on January 8th, I'm still alive and sane.

So good-bye, Christmas. You were so good to us all in 2010. Here's to a wonderful, prosperous and love-filled (Dan and I have 3 weddings to stand up in this year) New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I've been a very good girl this year. I am patient, a good big sister, and want nothing more than to give cuddles. I've been much better about not barking at strangers, and I promise to be even better next year. This year for Christmas, I want my own king size bed with huge fluffy blankets, my own room and/or house, an extra feeding every day, 67 stuffed animals to tear up, a heated dog bed, world domination, and a closet full of cute puppy clothes. Merry Christmas, Santa!

Love, Paisley



Dear Santa,

Butterflies. Sparkles.

Love, Clover

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Random Tuesday Musings

  • This is a looooong week at work. There's hardly anyone here, and the things I need to get done are obviously things I've managed to push off for as long as I can.
  • My blood pressure medication is working! However, it causes both fatigue and insomnia. Not a good combo. I finally got some good sleep last night. I took a Tylenol PM and managed to go to bed at 8 and sleep until 5am. I feel a lot better, but still feel tired when I'm awake. The doctor said I should grow out of it, hopefully soon.
  • You should check out Shana's 12 Days of Christmas on her blog. The prizes are super fun and cute. I should know. I've won twice already. We'll be enjoying spiked Serendipity frozen hot chocolate on Christmas Eve.
  • Speaking of Christmas Eve, I have to figure out what we're going to do for dinner. I think steaks would be good. I also need an activity. Last year we did our gingerbread house decorating contest. Dan's not down with that this year. I'm open to suggestions.
  • Nothing starts my day off better than coming to work to find a Christmas card featuring an ugly baby waiting for me at my desk. Do people know when their babies are ugly?
  • I'm pretty much done Christmas shopping. I still have to get some golf balls for my future brother-in-law, and some pickles for Dan. Yes, pickles. Dan asked for pickles for Christmas. I love him.
  • I haven't done an official Meal Plan Monday in a couple weeks. It's not that I'm not planning meals, but it all sounds so boring: burgers, chicken, turkey something, chicken, steak. See? Boring.

Aaaaand that's all I've got for now. Are you stuck at work this week?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nine...

...pounds. That's how much I've lost in 4 weeks on South Beach. Nine pounds! I'm ecstatic, honestly. I couldn't stop smiling at the doctor's office. I've been struggling to lose weight for almost a year and a half, since my first round of boot camp. It's been a sacrifice and a huge conscious effort to keep up with this new way of living, and I'm feeling very proud. It was a surprise, as well. I knew my pants were fitting more loosely, but I had no idea I'd dropped as much as 9 pounds. I feel very thankful for the support of family, friends, and coworkers for helping me keep on track and encouraging me, and I just can't wait to lost another 9. When I do, I'll be almost back to wedding weight. Nine pounds. Yay!

On the other hand, I didn't get good news on the blood pressure. I'm going to have to be medicated. It's not what I wanted, but it's what's best for my heart. I also have a significant vitamin D deficiency, so I'll be taking both prescription and over-the-counter supplements. My sister recently sent me some good info on the deficiency, and one effect is weight gain. Another is high blood pressure, which means they're probably all inter-related. I'm hoping that getting my vitamin D levels back to normal will bring things all into balance and it'll be a snowball effect. Vitamin D will hopefully support the weight loss, and the weight loss and vitamin D will aid the meds in bringing and keeping the blood pressure down. Hopefully by March, I'll be able to drop the blood pressure medication and maintain a healthy weight. I'll probably always have to supplement vitamin D, but I'd prefer that over blood pressure meds any day.

Sooooo, awesome! Nine pounds! And hopefully that's just the beginning.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rebuilt - UPDATED

So after the great Hurricane of 2010, I rebuilt my cubicle on Tuesday. my coworker reinforced it with buttresses and it's held up really well, and I added the finishing touches. Here is the outside. The lights blink, but just my luck, none of the 8 shots I got happened to catch them on. Oooof course.


I got my pink flamingos on Amazon (after perusing craigslist ads asking $50 for a "vintage" pair). Mrs. ESPN devised the ingenious method of putting them in styrofoam cups to make them stand. I bought little creepy singing puppies at Walgreen's and stole their hats. The puppies were given up for adoption to Mrs. ESPN's daughters.


I picked up poinsettias and KFC buckets after work last night. I think they add a nice festive touch to my "porch." Plus, I think the admins will enjoy them when I gift them later today.


The judging is today - not Friday like I said last week - so hopefully I win. There's also a potluck, but I won't be participating. South Beach trumps potlucks. I've done really well on it, with just a cheat here and there (gotta stay a little sane, people). We had a cookie exchange here at work, and I sent all my loot to work with Dan. Ironically, my mint meringues didn't work out and I had to bring store bought cookies. The shame. Seriously. They are so good when they come out - they're my favorite cookie that my mom makes, and I was so sad to not be able to share them. But if there's one thing people don't appreciate around the holidays, it's salmonella poisoning.

Anyway, I have my appointment with my doctor tomorrow to check my blood pressure. My blood work revealed a vitamin D deficiency, and I'm wondering if that could be contributing to the blood pressure and weight gain. Please send good thoughts - I know my blood pressure hasn't gone down over the last month, but hopefully a solution for the vitamin D will pull some double duty and help with the ticker.

___________________________________________

UPDATE: I came in 2nd in the cube decorating contest. Bummer. The general concensus (from everyone but the winners, obvs) was that I was robbed. But it's okay. The cube that beat me was very nicely done in a much more traditional style. And it was fun. I'm already cooking up next year's design...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Don't worry. Toto is okay.

Last year for our cubicle decorating contest, I turned my cubicle into Brooke's Cocoa Bar with the creative help of Salt. I had fresh cocoa and all the fun stuff to put in or on it, decorated sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and tried to turn my cube into a festive little wonderland. I came in second. Not bad considering I'm alone in my cube and the winners had two minds to put together and decorate.

This year, I decided to go in a different direction. Redneck Christmas. With the help of Dan's skills and my coworker's extra pair of hands, I turned my cubicle into an iconic Airstream trailer. I covered in in silver paper, then added an Airstream logo, wheels and windows and strung it with lights. Dan made me that doormat that says "Git R Done." I had a tree put up and used bobbers as ornaments, and hung little stockings for my little rednecks all named Bobby (including a Justin Bobby, R.I.P. The Hills). A coworker brought in some rickety old lawn chairs and I have plans for poinsettias in KFC buckets and my pink flamingo lawn ornaments are on their way. It was on the road to White Trashville.




But this morning, I came in to find this...


My coworker with a hilarious sense of humor left the tornado on the wall when she came in and saw the trailer has collapsed. Don't worry, Toto is okay, and with the help of FEMA, we'll be rebuilding in time to take the gold medal at judging on Friday. It'll be even awesomer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things you should be complimenting me for

This one is dumb, but I guess we have to get past it...

Day 12: Something you never get compliments on

Really?! Who keeps track of what they never get compliments on? How do you even know to think of these things? Does someone actually keep tabs of "oh, I did something awesome today, and no one gave me props?" I have no idea. But just for fun's sake, here are some things I don't think I've ever been complimented on:

  • Being claustrophobic
  • How graceful I am
  • My hatred for the stuffing cooked inside the turkey and subsequent demand for separate stuffing
  • Knowing nothing about the members of the bands I claim as my favorites
  • My ability to crack my toes
  • My stubby eyelashes
  • The way I claim that I can remember long random strings of numbers very easily and then say "I'll show you. What's your credit card number?"
  • My blanket-hogging abilities
  • My texting while driving skills (just kidding, Mom)
  • The way I hate to rinse dishes because that's what the dishwasher is for, duh
  • The freckle on my left middle toe

There you have it. A few awesome things about me that no one has ever complimented me on. Probably along with this post....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, aren't you funny?

I'm organizing a cookie exchange at work. After finalizing all the plans, I got this from my friend, Michelle.

The most awesome cookie order ever:

"I would like to place a an order of 3 dozen cookies please. I would like them to be gingerbread houses with each cookie detailing a window, door, and each individual shingle on the roof outlined in frosting. I'd also l like the houses to be decorated for christmas, with lights and wreath detailing. In addition like a minimum of 4-5 colors used on each cookie. Oh and some realistic-like snow on the roof. If possible, in the window I'd like a "scene from grandma's house" possible with a christmas tree and grand piano showing through the window. The star on top of the Christmas tree should be a Swarovski crystal. I will send you a check for $30.00. Thanks a million."

Sure, I'll get right on that :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: 12/6

Welcome to December's first Meal Plan Monday! Woohoo! Today is also my fabulous friend, Rachel's 30th birthday and the first day of Shana's 12 Days of Christmas giveaways on her blog, Fumbling Towards Normalcy. Go check it out for rules and entries and you might get a very special present.

On to Meal Plan Monday:


Monday: South Beach Chicken Capri (chicken, ricotta cheese, mozzarella) and broccoli

Tuesday: Chili - never made it last week.

Wednesday: South Beach Steak au Poivre and veggies Dan has requested burgers and veggie fries. I guess they're a hit! We'll do Steak au Poivre another week.

Thursday: Mushroom Crockpot Chicken

Friday: Leftovers or improvise

I'm trying out a couple of recipes from the South Beach Diet Cookbook, which a friend let me borrow, and throwing in a few standbys. I'm still doing Phase 1. I've done really well with South Beach with only a few cheats sprinkled in. Pants are starting to loosen up, but I'm not to where I want to be to go on to Phase 2 just yet.

I need to take my weekends into account as well. For the most part, I've been fine with leftovers. This past weekend, we went to Cheesecake Factory on Saturday and I had a steak and shrimp dish with veggies instead of their amazing mashed potatoes. Last night, my dad and Dan and I went to Native New Yorker after my dad and I went to the Rams/Cardinals game, and I had a steak salad, but snuck a couple of Dan's fries. Over all, I've done better on this diet than I ever have before, and I hope that the results are coming soon. My blood pressure was down a bit on Thursday, so hopefully it continues that direction.

Here's your linky for MPM:



These are the people in your neighborhood...

Living in an apartment oftentimes means living around some serious characters. There are a lot of nice families in our complex, and there are some people I give the serious side-eye to. I was thinking this morning about the interesting people we've lived near in our almost 3-years here, and thought I'd share.

At the old building (before we moved due to lack of AC), we had some really fun people. We had the 19 and 23-year-old lesbians from Alabama. They were super sweet, and helped me out a few times with Paisley when she was really little and I couldn't get home at lunch. Neither of them had more than an 8th grade education, and they had some serious attitude and probably some substance addiction issues, but they'd have given you the shirt off their backs. Very sweet girls. They moved back to Alabama for an opportunity at Wal-Mart. I miss them.

Also in the old building was a man we called Billy the Pimp. He was an older black guy who seemed to be living with an older white woman above us. He drove a Cadillac and wore the kind of suits and hats you'd find marked "Pimp" at a costume store. He'd disappear for months at a time and then reappear. Billy bounced around between sales jobs, so he was always trying to sell us whatever he was currently selling, everything from Nissans to life insurance. He once told me that Paisley's tail was curly because she was friendly. This was said as she was barking ferociously at him. Not to mention the fact that she's part pug, which I told him multiple times. Billy the Pimp still lives with the doughy white lady and always gives a smile and a nod when he sees us.

Our new building has some interesting people, too. For example, our neighbors above and on the opposite side of the stair way. They seem nice, but are frequently arguing as they come and go. I know you're not supposed to judge books by covers and all that, but neither seems to take pride in how they dress. The girl appears to work in an office, and her pants are always wrinkled and just a bit too short. I just always want to fix them. I try to at least take pride in how I look when I go to work, and even if I'm not 100% happy with an outfit, it's pressed and clean and I look presentable. Not to mention, they have a pit bull (a disallowed breed for our complex, and most complexes for that matter) that they walk around off-leash. He seems nice enough, but with all the stereotypes about pits, it just seems stupid to me to let an aggressive-breed dog walk around unleashed. It's just asking for trouble.

The guy directly above us is the Vanilla Ice Ice Agent. For real. He's an I.C.E. agent. He drives an unmarked car and every once in a while we see him leaving in full agent gear with rifles and everything. He never says anything to us, just stands on his balcony smoking cigarettes and glaring at everyone. Before the I.C.E. agent, we had a meth head who would threaten to harm herself and lock herself in her apartment, resulting in us calling the police multiple times. it's ironic that a cop now lives in her old place. Needless to say, Vanilla Ice Ice Agent is a much better neighbor.

My current favorite is the Professor. I don't know his actual name, but he's a sweet older guy who calls Clover "Killer" and Paisley "the mean one." He leaves at the same time every day in a slight variation of pretty much the same outfit. I've decided he's a Professor because he looks like one. One day, out of the blue, he came to our apartment with his little TV and asked Dan to help him with his cable set up. When he saw our 47" screen TV, he went and bought one the same day. Before then, I'm not sure he'd really spoken to either of us. Last week, I got the great surprise that he seems to have a mail-order bride. Yes, I know, I'm stereo-typing, but you'd think so, too, so don't judge me. He was beaming as he introduced me to her, and all of a sudden he's all cheery and he even decorated for Christmas, which he definitely didn't do last year. Whoever she is, she turned him into a less Scroogey guy just in time for the holidays.

So, those are the people in our neighborhood. Despite most of them being perfectly nice and harmless, I'm so anxious to begin house-shopping and get the fudge out of there in March. I know that living in a house doesn't guarantee us that our neighbors won't be wackadoos, but I'm ready for new ones.

Do you have any interesting apartment neighbors?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Little stream

Day 11: Something people seem to compliment you the most on

If there is one thing I get the most compliments on - and always have - it's my name. Brooke. Say it with me: "Brooke." Sounds nice, huh? It even looks pretty, if I may brag just a little bit. I love that it's always suited me and is timeless. It was just as appropriate for me at 4 years of age as it is at 29. I love that you can't tell from my name how old I am, the way people would be able to make a pretty good stab at my sister Megan's age. As it's ranked at #52 in the U.S., it's nicely uncommon while not being out there in a way that would make people go, "say whaaaat?" I usually hear "that's a pretty name," or "you don't hear that often." When Dan and I have children, we hope to choose names similar in that way. I can't imagine having any other name, I think it suits me just perfectly.

Having the name Brooke puts me in a pretty elite group of awesome people. I'm among Miss USA (Brooke Angus), actresses (Brooke Burns and Brooke Shields - of course), models (Brooke Burke), Olympic athletes (Brooke Abel and Brooke Shaw), a wealthy philanthropist/socialite/novelist centurian (Brooke Astor), former NFL cheerleaders (Brooke Emerson and Brooke Wicker), and even someone who's famous for trying to be famous (Brooke Hogan). Not a bad league to be in, eh?

How do you feel about your name? Do you like it? Do you looooove it? If not, what would you change it to?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Our Thanksgiving week started out mellow. An easy week at work, nothing too stressful. Only 2 and basically a half days to get through until a day of feasting and family. And then, Clover struck. I took her to get her rabies and parvo shots on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, little girl was throwing up and when she came out of her crate, it was at a slow walk. Not at all like Clover. And her face was puffy, which was actually pretty cute. Basically, she was having an allergic reaction. So after a dose of Benadryl, it was back to the vet we went, for a steroid shot and a few hours of observation. It was oh so reminiscent of Paisley's horrible illness last year, almost exactly a year to the day. I'm so thankful for our amazing vet clinic. All the vets and techs are so helpful and comforting, and I never worry about our dogs when in their care.

After it was determined that Clover was in the clear, it was dog park time. And not just any dog park time. Dog park photo shoot time. A Knottie friend of mine is building her pet photography portfolio and so I took advantage of her services to get some cute shots of The Girls. Paisley and Clover ran and played for a solid hour while she just snap, snap, snapped away. She got about 140 pictures, and posted 30 on Facebook. Here are a few of our favorites of Paisley...






And of Clover...





After the dog park, we hung out at home and waited for Dan, who had a long night at work. We hung out, enjoying being off for the holiday. On Thursday morning, we headed to Tucson for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It was a wonderfully relaxing day with my parents and a family friend. We ate, we drank, we played Wii. We were thankful for good company, our health, and our family. At the end of the evening, Dan had to head home to work on Friday. I'm so thankful for my husband, who works so hard for us and always selflessly put me first.

I spent the rest of the weekend with fabulous people: my parents, my dear friend Rachel, Mrs. ESPN's adorable girls, and our friend Scott and his kids. I'm so thankful that we have so many wonderful people in our lives. I got a fabulous Black Friday deal on some wine glasses, picked out the bridesmaid dress (I think) for Rachel's wedding, and helped my mom with her yard sale. All in all, another wonderful weekend. It went by way too quickly, but it was packed full of great moments.

Speaking of Mrs. ESPN, tomorrow is her birthday, so... Happy Birthday!! Have a wonderful day! Thank you for being an awesome friend.

How was your Thanksgiving weekend?

Meal Plan Monday: 11/29

I can't believe December is almost here! It's crazy how quickly this whole year has gone by. I'll come back later to do a weekend post covering Thanksgiving, a doggie photo shoot, and a little Christmas shopping, but for now, here's Meal Plan Monday:

Monday: Lemon pepper chicken and asparagus

Tuesday: Italian burgers (Dan looooved them!) with brocolli and cucumber "fries" (Dan's idea - he's so awesome and supportive)

Wednesday: Turkey chili

Thursday: Beef fajitas with black beans

Friday: Leftovers - probably chili

So here's the linky - spread the word! (And no spammers, please. That's just not cool. If you link, spammers, I'll shoot you with flame throwers.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dropping dead weight

I'm luckily not in a situation currently where this applies to me, but I can elaborate on the couple of experiences I have had with dropping "dead weight"...

Day 10: Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn't know.


We've all had them - that friend that becomes a frenemy and then maybe just becomes toxic. Unfortunately, they don't always realize that's how you see them. That's when difficult conversations have to be had. I've had to have that "conversation" twice in my life. I say "conversation" (with little air quote fingers) because it was more like an email from me explaining I didn't want to be friends anymore. This may not be the method everyone would prefer, but it works for my in my favorite ripping-off-a-bandaid kind of way. It's not fun, and it's not easy, but in both cases, I felt it had to be done.


The first was a college friend. We'd been very close our junior year, then drifted a wee bit after she graduated (I did two more years due to changing majors and schools), and then we became coworkers at my first job. We liked working together and we were fine and I thought we were tight. And then she got engaged. And she asked our whole crew from college to be her bridesmaids... except for me. She was insensitive - in my opinion - about it. She'd ask me what I thought about bridesmaid dress designs, wedding plans, and bridal party gifts. She never had a conversation about why I'd been excluded. For the record, I didn't feel I deserved to be a bridesmaid, just that I thought it was hurtful that I was the only one left out. It just showed me that our friendship clearly didn't mean to her what it meant to me. Later in her planning, she excluded only one of her fiance's five siblings (his sister who didn't end up attending the wedding at all, she was so hurt) and I noticed a pattern of thoughtlessness. I ended the friendship just under a year after her wedding. It just had become more hurtful than mutually beneficial and I was ready to cut ties.


Recently, I mentioned that I needed to sever myself from another friend, and I did in August. We had been coworkers at the job before my current one and kept in touch since we both left the company. She was supportive while I was planning my wedding, and it was also during that time that she was pregnant with her son. However, there was always something that bothered me about her and that was the way she was so jealous and hateful in the way she spoke of her step-children, as well as controlling of her husband. She would complain to me endlessly about her fights with her husband, mostly involving her step-son and how she wanted the kid (who was 15 when they married) out of her home. She fully intended to kick her step-son out of their house when he was 18, without any regard for her husband's wishes or where the kid would go. Basically, she wanted to have her little family with her husband and their son, and her step-kids could disappear into thin air for all she cared. Anything else her husband did that wasn't exactly how she wanted resulted in a fight, sometimes leading to them not speaking for days. I tried to respectfully tell her when I thought she was being ridiculous but it was met with, "well, you don't know. Dan doesn't have kids, he doesn't have an ex wife."


From my perspective, her life was just chaos, and most of it was caused by her over-reacting. I did like her, and I liked hanging out with her, so for a while I justified it with "sometimes nice people do shitty things," but then I realized that the things she was doing reflected an ugliness inside her. At some point, I just grew exhausted. So I wrote her an email one day and - very successfully restraining myself and my true opinions - told her that I didn't think we should communicate anymore. It's been one of the best decisions I've made. My weeks are much less drama filled (she literally fought with her husband weekly) and I don't constantly feel like I'm biting my tongue.


It's not easy letting a friend go, and I'm thankful that the friends I currently have in my life are true and wonderful friends. I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to friendships, and it's lead to me having meaningful and long-lasting relationships in my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A big ol' whopping hybrid of a post

This weekend was long. And short. It was a little of everything, kind of like this post is going to be. We went to Tucson on Saturday to help my parents. Their gas line was leaking, so we went down so Dan could replace it. We got up bright and early and got there by 8:30am. Dan and my dad had to dig the trench for the piping, so that took a good 5 or so hours. Then they had to measure and buy the pipe (2.5 hours) and then lay it all in the ground. Dan is obviously a certified pipe fitter, so he knows exactly what he's doing. It was kinda fun to watch him work. There's a lot involved in making sure that gas line piping is safe, and I have a lot more respect for how hard he works. We weren't done until just after 10 and then drove back home. Long day.

Yesterday was a pretty perfect day. The dogs, who were tired from 14 hours of constant playing at my parents' house, slept until 8:30. Eight. THIRTY. Glorious. I got up and hung out with them while Dan slept in. Then we went to Applebee's where I got fabulous South Beach diet happy fajitas. We went shopping at the mall, and I got my sister crossed off the to-buy-for list. I absolutely hate shopping after Thanksgiving, so I'm trying to get what I can done now. I actually took a day off in December to finish, if need be. You won't find me shopping on Black Friday. Anyway, we also did our grocery shopping - tons of veggies, lean proteins, and low fat dairy stuff for me. Life on the South Beach diet so far is good. All the proteins keep me feeling pretty full. I'm sure I'll miss my brown rice, and Dan's fries yesterday looked soooo good, but I'll get through it.

Last night was my first official South Beach dinner. When we got home I made delicious Italian burgers with zucchini and squash "fries." I used extra lean beef that I seasoned with garlic powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and minced onion. Just before they were done, I topped them with non-fat mozzarella cheese. I steamed the zucchini and squash about half way, then sprinkled them with a touch of salt and broiled them the rest of the way. I have to say, they were pretty darn good, and I'm kinda stoked to have the leftovers for lunch today. I also used up my over-ripe bananas by baking my coworkers a couple loaves of banana bread. I did taste a tiny bit just to make sure I didn't serve them anything disgusting, and it was pretty good for my first try, if I do say so myself.

By the way, I'm not turning this into a nutrition blog by any means. I'm the last person qualified to do that. But healthy cooking and recipe ideas are always great to share, which is the whole idea of...


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Meal Plan Monday!!

Monday: Crock pot chicken with asparagus. I thought I'd have to get rid of my cream of mushroom soup recipe, but I read the can and the soup is lot in fat as well as carbs, so I can eat it. Hurray!

Tuesday: Beef fajitas and black beans

Wednesday: 15 bean soup. My mom gave me all the fixings (I just have to add Canadian bacon). I'll probably freeze most of it in bowl size portions that we can use for lunches or quick dinners.

Thursday: Thanksgiving!! Yay!

I've got extra veggies to take to my parents' house for the weekend, so that I'll be able to keep up the good habits. I will indulge in a little bit of mashed potatoes and stuffing, but my goal is to limit myself to only one small portion of each. Starting a new way of life around the holidays will definitely be a challenge, but it'll be worth it, and if I surround myself with good choices, hopefully I won't feel like I'm missing out on much.

What are you cooking in your castle this week? Linky below...


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And now, a couple of giveaways!!

As you know, I have a massive Cookie Girl crush on Bridget at Bake at 350. I pretty much taught myself to do cookies with the help of her blog's tutorials, recipes, and instructions. Her blog turned 3 and she's celebrating with an amazing giveaway: a bright red Kitchenaid mixer! So go enter. Do it now! Happy Birthday, Bake at 350!!

Also, Mom-Nom.com is having a whole hot mess of giveaways. She's got great stuff for gifts for you or someone on your list. This lady is hilarious - both on her blog and on the Twitter. Definitely go enter any and all of her giveaways and get some Christmas shopping taken care of.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Silly Sal

Day 09: Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted

My freshman year of high school was an awesome time. I'd narrowly survived middle school, and high school was all about new beginnings: I started competitive (not synchronized) swimming, went to a new school (obviously), and met new friends. The awesome thing about my high school is that I'd gone to elementary with many people in my class since I'd been in magnet schools from kindergarten to 4th grade. So I had new friends and old friends that were new again.

One of the truly new friends was Sally. Sally was awesome! She was fun and silly, and we had similar personalities. She was also funky, creative, and out-going, which at that point in my life, I really wasn't. She introduced me to a lot of new people, and was also friends with people from my elementary school. We rode the bus to and from school together and had English together our freshman year. I remember us both melting into fits of giggles over the words "me thinks" and "fickle" while reading Romeo & Juliet. Why we thought that was so funny, I don't know, but we did.

Sally always had the most fun parties. Her birthday was in May, which was perfect for an outdoor Saturday night party in her parents' backyard. They were always costume parties - she'd split the invitees up by grade or alphabet and assign categories for costume theme. One year I had to be a Disney character, another year I was a hippie and wore my mom's wedding dress. It was at one of her parties where I first bonded with my very good friend, Rachel.

Basically, hanging out with Sally was just fun. We were always good friends in high school. We hung with the same crowd both in and outside of school. It's not like we were joined at the hip or anything, but we got along really well and spent quite a bit of time together. On Friday or Saturday nights, we'd always all get together at our hangout, Coffee Etc. and just chill.

When we graduated, I went away to Northern Arizona University and she stayed in Tucson to go to the University of Arizona. Since most of our group of friends went to NAU, she came and visited a few times, and we'd always meet up with her whenever we visited.

But like many friends do, we drifted apart. It sucks, because she is still awesome, but now she lives in Texas. I see her on Facebook (she just had a baby girl) and stuff, but I haven't actually seen her in person in probably 5 years, and even that was a brief run-in at a bar in Tucson. I wish we'd both made more effort to stay in better touch, but I know that sometimes that's just what happens to friendships. I'm hopeful that someday down the road, when she visits her family, timing will work out and we'll be able to get together, and I hope it's just as fun and silly as it was 14 years ago (oh my gosh, 14 yeeeears!) when we first met.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My New Plan

I have a confession. A couple, actually, I guess. First, I've got some high blood pressure. Major suck. I could have passed it off as a fluke, but I know I can't because (second confession ahead) I've also gained enough weight to warrant a new pants size since going off hormonal birth control in April. Major suck.

I felt embarrassed enough about the weight gain as it was - having to buy a bigger pants size is never fun. Even though I had a stress-free jeans shopping experience before Baltimore (which, yay for that!) it still broke my heart to have to buy the next size up. I have guilt - I know that I don't make the healthiest choices and I indulge too often, despite the fact that I cook most of our dinners and, through leftovers, our lunches. It seems like it would be easier to lose 10 pounds than buy new pants, right? But I haven't lost weight easily in the last 2 and a half years. Even with 12 weeks of boot camp before the wedding and another 4 weeks this past July, I've continued to gain. And it's embarrassing. I feel icky and disappointed.

The good thing that will come out of this high blood pressure thing is that this is the kick in the pants from someone other than myself that I need to do something about the current state of my waistline. I literally have to do something or I'll risk my health, and I can't do that. My doctor said even a 10-15 pound drop would make a difference in my blood pressure. So that's my first goal. I'm not big with daunting goals, so I'll start with 15 and then add 10 as needed. I don't even want to say what my overall goal is for fear of failing, so we're not going there.

Any thoughts and good vibes you can send my way are much appreciated. My doctor recommended the South Beach diet plan as my new way of life, so any recipes you can send my way are welcome. Meal Plan Mondays will now come with linkys, so spread the word so we can all share in good meal ideas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why middle school is full of the suck.

I wrote out this post awesomely yesterday and then lost it thanks to the server. I’m peeved. Hopefully I can recreate it

Day O8: Someone who made your life hell or treated you like shit.

Aside from the obvious subject of Day 04, the “person” who made my life most crappy was 85% of the people I went to middle school with. No joke. Middle school experience was awful.

My middle school served four elementary schools: mine, another middle class school like mine, a lower income school that required an hour and 45 minute bus ride to get there, and one of Tucson’s highest income schools. Quite a mix. The kids who went to the high income school - which we’ll call Moneybags Elementary for the purposes of this post - lived in huge houses in the foothills, their parents drove fancy cars, and most of them had stay-at-home moms, if not nannies. Now, don’t get me wrong, these things are all very nice, but there’s a difference between having money and being humble, and having money and feeling the need to show it off. Moneybags Elementary kids were the second kind. My pal Shelly would call them “new money,” like Molly Brown from Titanic.

Anyway, the rest of the school came from more modest neighborhoods. We were taken care of, clothed, and fed, but our parents didn’t necessarily have extra wads of cash for things like Mossimo shirts (remember when Mossimo was cool? Stussy, anyone?) and trips to Telluride. I'm not bitter, it was just a different lifestyle. Neither was better than the other. Unless you were a Moneybags kid, and then the rest of us may as well have lived in gutters and worn trashbags to school and they weren’t going to let us forget it.

In middle school, the only thing anyone wants is to fit in. So for me, not having the things the “cool” kids had was the worst thing possible. Any way in which I was different was instantly detected and used as a weapon against me. I swam synchronized swimming and was teased for smelling like chlorine. I tried to wear make up to fit in and be pretty, but mascara sometimes left me with raccoon eyes, so I was teased for that. My 7th grade math teacher was my swim coach, and although her classroom was my safe haven, I was teased for being teacher’s pet, even though she knew the perils of middle school and made sure to never draw attention to me. Despite my current voluptuosity (rad word, huh?) I was rail thin in middle school, had size 8 feet, frizzy hair, braces, and glasses. Moneybags kids had clear retainers, contact lenses, blowdryers, Vans shoes (instantly negates size of feet), and meat on their bones. They were like a Gap Juniors (if that existed) catalog come to life.

Needless to say, I hated middle school, and not for the reasons you’re supposed to like P.E. showers and boys teasing you because they like you. Those would have been cake walks. I begged my mom to take me out of that school, to home school me or let me go somewhere else. Neither of those were options though. My mom is a saint, and I don’t know how I got through it without her. I can see how the teasing and bullying of middle school would lead kids to things like self-harm, eating disorders, and worse. It’s brutal. On the day of my 8th grade graduation, I remember crying when I saw my parents after the ceremony, in part in sadness in knowing I’d miss the few friends I did have, but mostly in absolutely relief that it was finally fucking over.

I did get reprieve in not going to the high school that my middle school fed into. I instead went to a magnet school that had actual diversity. The Moneybags kids went to their neighborhood high school. I have run into a few of them in the last 13 years and it always makes me uneasy. When I worked retail in college, one of the guys came in. I was helping him find some jeans or something and I mentioned that I recognized him from middle school. He said I didn’t look familiar and asked my name. When I told him, he said, “nope, doesn’t ring a bell.” We had home-room and our core classes together, and we rode the same bus. I could have named every single one of my tormentors, and their faces are ingrained on my grey matter, and he didn’t even recognize me. It hit me that teasing me was just another day at school for those kids.

If I have to be forced to send my kids to middle school (I'd rather send them to a cannibal-inhabited deserted island), I plan to be honest and tell them how difficult it was for me. I want them to know that teasing is hurtful for years afterward. I know that cliques are a natural part of life at that age, and there’s a need to establish pecking order, but hopefully my kids will come out of middle school with less trauma than I had, and hopefully not cause any either.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meal Plan Monday: 11/15

Here's what's being served up this week:

Monday: Frozen lasagna and salad. Dan picked it up last night but it didn't sound good.

Tuesday: French's fried onion chicken. I never made it on Friday since I went to go "meet" Kat von D

Wednesday: Turkey Shepard's pie. Haven't made this one in a while and the cool weather lately is just perfect for something like this

Thursday: Crock pot chicken, though I'm not sure if I'll use cream of mushroom or try something else. I've got a cake to make, so the less cooking I have to do, the better.

Friday: We'll most likely have leftovers. If not, we may go out, which we haven't done on a Friday in a few weeks.

And Kallay at Kallaydoscope suggested I do a linky for Meal Plan Monday so we can all share ideas and expand our meal repertoire, so let's give it a whirl!

I love them

Day 07: Someone who has made your life worth living for.

First, I hate how this one's worded. Let's get that out there. Maybe I just take things too literally, but I hate when people talk about people and objects as things they "can't live without," in such a dramatic way, and the title of this 30 Days of Truth topic is similar, in my deluded little noggin.

Aside from 2 years' worth of low self esteem and bad days in middle school (was that shit fun for anyone?!) I feel pretty lucky that I've never felt a need to have to seek out something to make life "worth living for." I've never wanted to not be here, and I've never needed a person or thing to remind me that I want to live. Even in those horribly grey days in middle school, I didn't want life to end. I just begged my mom to homeschool me so I'd never have to see any of those soul-crushing ass monsters ever again. So when I answer this question, please keep in mind I'm not taking it in the literal sense.

So now that I've taken all the sappy notions out of this, the people who make "life worth living for" are obviously my husband and my family. I can't imagine my life without any of them. My parents are wonderful and loving people who've done nothing in their children's lifetime but try to make us happy, safe and secure. My sister is just an awesome person, and I love her for the ways in which we're the same and different. And then there's Dan. I can't say enough wonderful things about the man I'm lucky enough to be married to. He'd give me the whole world if he could. Being married to him is fun, comfortable, and happy.

Dan, my mom, my dad, and Megan are the four people in this world that absolutely make my life as wonderful as it is. If you want to make me want to vomit and get all dramatic, then fine: they make my life worth living for.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm no longer a creepy stalker fan

Remember when I was in Maryland and I found out Kat von D was doing a book signing 5 minutes away? And we went to see her and my brother-in-law snapped shots over a bookshelf of her with a random fan? Well, I decided to do things right this time and actually went to see Kat for myself at her book tour stop in Phoenix.

My awesome friend and tattooer, Melissa, really wanted to go see her too. On Friday, she went to Barnes & Noble to get our number wristbands that would also be our place in line. It's amazing; they opened at 9 and Mel got there at 10:30, and we were numbers 432 and 433 (we heard that there were over 800 wristbands given out for the 3 hour signing). After work, I headed to the bookstore and got in line.

You can't even see Kat in this photo, but she's waaaaay in the back, near that blue speck past the bald guy's head. Yeah, far away. We waited for 2 hours and then finally found ourselves close to the front of the line. We were very excited.


It's so funny - the whole "meeting Kat" experience was like 5 seconds. I told her it was so cool to meet her, she thanked me for waiting in line. She signed my book, I turned around for a photo, thanked her, and that was it. I wanted to hang out with
her! She's so freaking tall and has such a presence, I feel like a complete cheeseball in this picture.

I've been following Kat on Twitter and already read the book from cover to cover and I have to say that I really like her. She seems very level-headed and sincere. I think she's actually in awe of the fact that she has the fame that she does. She said something in her book that really hit home for me - she commented on how she sometimes catches the rude comments people make under their breath about heavily tattooed people. Comments like "she must be a hooker," "I feel bad for her parents," and other hurtful things. When Dan and I were dating, he went to a customer's house and the old man asked if Dan was married. When Dan said he wasn't, the guy said something along the lines of "I thought not. No one would want to marry you with all that shit on your arms." I remember thinking, "but I want to marry you!" as well as being blown away by the rudeness of a complete stranger. It's been eye opening to be with Dan and hear people's ignorant comments and see them react to his heavily tattooed body. When Kat wrote about this in her book, it really built a connection for me. Even though I'm not the recipient of comments, I still am faced with and affected by people's misconceptions because I love someone who is the target of comments.

Anyway, I like Kat and going to see her was a really fun experience. If nothing else, I also got to spend time with Melissa, which is always fun.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The worst thing possible

Day 06: Something you hope you never have to do

The absolutely worst thing I can think of that anyone would ever have to do is lose a child. Losing anyone you love is awful, but I can't imagine losing a child. I don't have children, so I don't even have an understanding of that sort of love for another person, but I imagine that it's the most incredible thing in the world. To lose that person has to be the most devastating thing. I've read the stories of women who miscarry, deliver still babies, and bury their children, and they always bring me immense sadness. I hope that in my lifetime, I am spared that experience, and I wish for peace for those parents who have to endure life's greatest loss.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Well, I did it

Last night after work, I took a few last pictures of my beautiful wedding dress - my most favorite thing I've ever worn - zipped the garment bag and drove to David's Bridal (cheapest shipping I found) to have my dress shipped off to the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation. I took Dan with me because I wasn't sure if I'd get emotional, and I'm glad I did, because I did. As much as I know that donating my dress to a worthy cause was the absolute right thing for me to do, I got teary leaving the store, and leaving my dress behind. Dan grabbed me in a big hug and told me how proud he was of my generosity, and that meant so much to me, because I think he's one of the most generous and selfless people I know. I still get a little lump in my throat thinking about it. The overwhelming support here and on Facebook and the Twitter have been wonderful - thank you for that. It also made me feel good that the consultant at David's Bridal took the organization's info so they could have it on hand for other potential donors.

As much as I like to believe I'm not a sentimental person - and really, I'm usually not - that dress symbolized an amazing day in our lives. I felt beautiful in it, and I had one of the best days of my life wearing it. However, I love knowing that now someone else may have the chance to feel the exact same way about it. Not to mention, the proceeds from its sale will grant final wishes to those battling the fight of their lives. Hopefully someday, no one will have to fight that battle.

In case you're wondering, I decided against having a piece removed from the train. I called a few cleaners and tailors yesterday and it would have been quite pricey for me just to have a 3" strip of fabric. And I decided not to wait until next week because I wanted to just get it done. Like ripping off a band-aid.

Even if you're not wanting to donate your dress, I urge you to check out Making Memories and the Pink Envelope Project. There are a number of ways to contribute, and I truly think that breast cancer awareness and research are worthy of our time and attention.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Belated Meal Plan Monday: 11/8/10

Between vacation and poor meal planning, I haven't done one of these in a few weeks. Here's our meal plan for this wonderful second week of November.

Monday: Mmmmm, pizza. Mrs. ESPN suggested using Pillsbury crusts and it was awesome!

Tuesday: Turkey stuffed peppers. Dan has been iffy on this one lately, so I'm only making dinner portions instead of the lunch & dinner sized batch I usually make. He may have to eat if for dinner, but at least he won't have to endure leftovers. You're welcome, honey

Wednesday: Pot roast. I got an awesome deal at Safeway - only $1.99 a pound!

Thursday: Shredded beef tacos with leftover pot roast. I love reworked meals! And this will be great since I have a pretty involved cupcake order to start on Thursday night.

Friday: French's fried onion chicken and green beans. Dan suggested this one a while back and it was super tasty but I haven't made it in a while.

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I also have some fun news. My wedding dress has been sitting in my closet since our wedding last year. Just sitting. I had wanted to do a trash the dress session, but 1. I grew out of my dress (sad face) and 2. I have my hesitations, and refuse to ruin it if I'm not 100% sure. So I've decided to donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer, which is affiliated with Making Memories and the Pink Envelope Project. The dress will be sold at a reduced cost, and the proceeds will go to breast cancer research. When I told my mom about it yesterday, she asked if I was ready to part with it, as she sensed hesitation in my voice. It's not so much that I'm not ready to part with it, but I wonder if someday my daughter (hopefully and hypothetically) will ask to see my dress and I won't have it to show her. On the other hand, I can tell her that I gave my dress so that another bride could feel fabulous on her wedding day, and I gave it up for a good cause. I hope she could be proud.

My dress just isn't living up to its full potential and I hope it can make someone else happy. I am considering cutting a 2 inch sliver off the end of the train so I'd have a piece of it, but haven't made up my mind on that yet. Either way, I'm really happy with my decision, and I hope to ship my dress out by the end of next week.

My biggest hope

Day o5: Something you hope to do in your life

There are many things I hope to do, see, and accomplish in my lifetime. I hope to go to Europe, see the Sistine Chapel, breath in the air in Ireland, and maybe someday have a bakery. But there's only one thing I've ever wanted to do in my whole life and that's be a mom. I can't imagine anything more fulfulling and wonderful than having a child with Dan, seeing him being a father, and raising a person to be a respectful, contributing member of society.

There are many things I look forward to in mommyhood. I can't wait until the day I know I'm carrying life inside me, the day that will change our whole world and shift every priority to the health and safe-keeping of that life. I can't wait to feel it move, to choose a name, and to see its tiny face for the first time. To count its fingers and toes and tell Dan "look, she has your nose!" We look forward to bonding with our kids, teaching them to swim, throw a ball, and ride motorcycles (I know, eek, but it's a given). We look forward to watching them go off to school, make best friends, and hopefully enjoy learning as much as we both do. We only hope we can do what everyone hopes to: give our kids everything we had and more.

As the holidays come near, I start to think about all the things I want to do with our kids to celebrate Christmas. I want to make cookies with them, and make the magic of Santa come alive. I want to take them to see lights and play in snow, and sing carols and drink cocoa. I want them to love every memory and tradition we create with them, and instill a spirit of giving and generosity, and show them how to make Christmas merry for others less fortunate.

I hope to someday have a relationship with a daughter like I have with my mom, and hopefully even closer. I hope our kids love their siblings and count each other among their best of friends. Most of all, I just hope we do a good job at being parents, and that - even with the tough times mixed in - we love every last moment.

I just can't wait to be a mom. Hopefully 2011 will be the year my hope comes true.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Someday I'll forgive

I've hesitated writing this 4th day of truth for a while, obviously. Clearly, I'm not doing these things on a daily basis, but taking breaks in between. This one has been on my mind for nearly 2 weeks, as I write and erase and rewrite it in my head. This one is hardest because I can't decide what to say, or how much. I don't want to dirty my happy blog with my past, but the only thing I can possibly think of when I read the description for 30 Days of Truth, Day 04, is this one thing.

Day 04: Something you have to forgive someone for

At some point, I have to forgive my ex-boyfriend. The guy I dated before Dan. The guy who promised I was safe with him. The guy whose drinking habits still make me want to hurl when I hear ice tinkling in a glass. The guy who made me question my self-worth and accused me of being mentality unstable when I told him he wasn't welcome to contact me ever again. The guy who will never recognize or admit that anything was wrong or broken or unhealthy about our relationship.

That's really all I want to say about it. I have things to work through in terms of forgiveness with this person. I'm thankful I'm in a wonderful place in life with a great and understanding husband, but I can't deny that my previous relationship will haunts me now and again. Someday I'll forgive.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanks for the love, Charm City!

Holy moly! It's been a long and fun 8 days since I last posted. Our vacation was awesome! We got to sleep in on Wednesday before packing and heading to the airport. We were delayed over an hour but the flight was short, putting us into BWI just in time to find that every bar and restaurant in the state had just closed.

On Thursday, we slept in - no surprise. Not purposely, but just because their 11am is our 8am. Oops. My sister-in-law-to-be, Alex, had to work, so Dan, my brother-in-law, David, and I ventured out to get a few things at Target and for lunch at a brewery. Thanks to The Twitter, I learned that my tattooed girl crush, Kat von D, was at Barnes & Noble in their town. That day. So needless to say, we went to see her. Sort of. I'm a big fan, but apparently not a big enough fan to actually stand in line to have her book (which I'm also not a big enough fan to have bought yet) signed. So my wonderful BIL, David, took pictures over the bookshelves for me. Here's Kat with a random fan, which I invite you to pretend for a moment is me:

After "meeting" Kat, we had lunch at this cute brewery in Ellicott City. The whole town was cute and the the trees are just gorgeous. It's not often - or ever, really - that we get to experience fall, so it was really cool to walk along and see leaves falling all around us. We spent the rest of the day hanging out and then went out for dinner.

Friday night was the big meet-up with Salt! I was wicked excited, people! She came over to David and Alex's and then I got to ride in her itty bitty smart car to the restaurant. She's so much fun. She's funny, sweet, charming, and nice touch of silly. It was awesome to finally get to meet her. Another knottie, who's pregnant with twins, met up with us as well.

On Saturday, we got up bright and early for our trip to the aquarium. The National Aquarium in Baltimore is really incredible, and I highly recommend it. David and Alex treated us to the whole experience, including the dolphin show and the 4D movie experience.



After a late lunch (mmmmm, craaaab cakes!) we went to find my other favorite celebrity, Chef Jeffrey Adam "Duff" Goldman at Charm City Cakes.

We went to the bar, Dizzy Izzie's, across the street so we could observe for a bit. While we were there, not less than 5 other geeky tourists got their picture taken in front of the building. We even saw the delivery guy load a cake for a delivery. Dan, David and Alex were not impressed.

Dan noticed that the bar had a sign stating they sell Charm City Cakes shirts, and he knew I'd want one. So I nervously (and maybe tipsilly, after 2 drinks) walked up to the bartender and asked for a "Charm Shitty Cakes shirt." Doh!! I got one though!


Sunday, we went for a walk in this beautiful park near David and Alex's home. Afterward, I got myself a good solid pre-flight nap. I should have known then I was starting to not feel so hot. The flight home was loooong. Dan and I thought we'd be smart and go to the very back of the plane and hope no one sat with us. Just our luck, the flight was completely full and I ended up crammed between a rather large woman on one side and Dan (who's not a small person either) for 5 and a half hours.

All in all, the trip was amazing and much-needed. We missed our pups and were happy to have them back home Monday night. Much thanks to my parents for the trip (graduation gift), to David and Alex for the hospitality, and to Salt for a fun night out. I'm back to the grind and not feeling so hot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cabinets are tricky

We spent this past weekend with my parents in Tucson. We left after work on Friday, dropped off the dogs, and then got dropped off by my mommy (like a kid at school) at the bar to meet up with some of my business frat bros. We - make that I - had decided it would be better to get dropped off and then cab it home because Homecoming weekend in Tucson is a nightmare parking-wise. Not to mention, we could have our fun and not worry about our dreams and jobs being stolen away from us by a DUI. As it turns out, we each had one drink and then were treated to a hella expensive cab ride home. Ah well.

I don't know if you noticed in the pictures from my parents' anniversary party, but the kitchen used to look like a Mexican fiesta threw up all over it. The original oven was this turquoise color and my mom and cousin matched the color and then added pink, orange, and yellow for walls and trim. On Labor Day of this year, my parentals got to work remodeling. They took out the cabinets, bought stainless steel appliances, and created a half wall that will serve as a breakfast bar. Pretty cool stuff. So on Saturday, my dad and Dan had the wonderful task of installing the new cabinets (excellent Craig's List find!). Things went well for a while... then not so well. I think they made 5 trips to Home Depot and it took about 14 hours to hang 6 cabinets. Cabinets are tricky. My mom and I - and a friend from across the street - found it all very amusing. In the end, the kitchen got put together and is now just awaiting its brand new granite counter tops. I can't wait to see how it comes together! The best part is, the walls are now elephant grey, a huge improvement over the vertigo-inducing colors of yesteryear.

Here's a crappy cell phone pic of the kitchen pre-granite. My parents actually ended up moving the appliances (after we placed them in their spot Sunday morning) and cabinets (I know, after all that work!) to the wall opposite the sink, but you get the idea.

Now I'm in my last 4 hours before our vacation begins and I almost can't handle the anticipation. I can't believe I'm going to be off work for SIX WHOLE DAYS!! Oh, and meet Salt. Yep, I get to meet Salt. Wicked awesome, right? And something about my brother-in-law and his fiancee. I think they might live there, too :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bit Swisher

Through complete random awesomeness today, The Twitter gave me a gift: a reminder of something absolutely and incredibly hilarious. Because laughter is meant to be shared, I present to you the story of The Bit Swisher.

Back when I was in college, I was in a business fraternity. Yes, I, a girl was in a business fraternity. Co-ed of course. I met some of my most awesome friends through my involvement. I also met some serious characters, one of whom was named C. He was all sorts of special, but very sweet. And smart, funny, and giving. We met and clicked mentally, but I was never very physically attracted to him. As sweet as he was, I honestly wanted to be. He'd have been a great boyfriend. But he came on faaaar too strong. Like, he bought me an iPod and had engraved on it, "The sweetest song I ever heard was your voice." Yeah, cheese. He made the mistake of introducing me to a friend and the friend and I started dating. C was understandably upset and we didn't talk for a while.

When my last relationship before Dan was unraveling, C and I reconnected after commenting on a friend's wall for his birthday. Ah, how social networking makes the world turn. It was totally friendly "hey how've you been?" stuff. However, after my relationship ended, we started talking more and more about our lives and other things. We started to feel mentally and emotionally connected again. He was a genuinely good guy. We decided he was going to come visit for a weekend and see if we clicked as well in person as we did on the phone and via email. I told him I was fine with him visiting and spending the weekend together, but I wasn't okay with him staying with me, and he said okay. He made plans to stay at his uncle's vacation home and we set a weekend agenda.

The night he flew in, we went for dinner and hung out and talked. It was really nice to see him again, but I just didn't get a physical spark with him. I decided pretty early on that even though we would have a fun weekend, we wouldn't carry on more than a friendship after Sunday. I dropped him off at his uncle's and said good night and drove home. He seemed bummed but I wasn't about to lead him on when I felt so lukewarm. I was, however, open to the possibility that the rest of the weekend would blow me away - it just remained to be seen.

The next day, we planned to go to Sedona for the day and do a Pink Jeep tour. On my way to his uncle's house, I texted him for his Starbucks order and stopped to get coffee. He answered back, "I'm going to go for a swim. I'll leave the door open." Sure, okay, whatever. So I get to the house and walk in with camera bag in one hand, lattes and muffins in the other and walk out onto the patio. I stopped dead in my tracks.

He was butt-ass naked, people. Completely naked. Swimming around. Naked. When he was expecting me to be coming in any minute. And then he got out like it was nothing and started to walk toward me (sans towel) for a hug before he realized how much I was freaked out. I just thought it was so weird. I mean really!? A girl is coming with coffee and you're going to greet her with your naked jollies hanging out? Who.does.that?! As it turned out, he didn't even bring any swim trunks, so it wasn't like it was a mistake. I asked him what he would have done if I'd wanted to go swimming at some point during the weekend and he seemed to think that him being naked was a perfectly acceptable situation. Naked. Ugh.

Needless to say, any glimmer of hope for anything amorous between us was completely gone as far as I was concerned. I seriously considered cancelling the day's plans, I was so weirded out. But I sacked up and we went to Sedona. Can you say awwwkward? Eventually the weekend was over and he went back home. I felt relief, unfortunately, which made me feel really bad. When I told me awesome friend Rachel about it, she just about died laughing. In describing the situation, I told her that he was just all nonchalantly swimming around with his man bits swishing in the pool. Always one for nicknames (Rachel and I call each other Nerd), she dubbed him The Bit Swisher.

Not surprisingly, we had a major falling out not long after. It's a little hard to be friends with someone when they try to hug you with their junk out. Not to mention, I met Dan and well, we got married and stuff. But today, the #FF (for you Tweetheads) of a mutual followee brought him up on my Blackberry screen. Life is just plain random sometimes.

Moral of the story, boys out there: wear swimming attire.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I must forgive myself

30 Days of Truth 03: Something you have to forgive yourself for

It's hard for me to admit fault or wrong-doing. I don't think I'm alone in that. It's never easy to say, "I screwed up," or "I hurt you." But the truth is, I've caused some deep hurt, and it's something I regret every day.

Growing up, my sister and I didn't get along very well. That's probably a huge understatement. For probably the first 15 years of my sister's life, we didn't have much of a bond. I was probably a very jealous little girl when Megan was born. I liked being the only child and having all of my parents' attention. But that doesn't forgive me the sins I committed in regard to my sister. I was rude, mean, and pushed her away for years. I wasn't the big sister she deserved to have - someone to play with her, protect her, and tell her how wonderful she was. I don't want to get into all of it, because I know it's painful for both of us. No matter what went down, I can't take back things that were said, or things that were done.

We've talked about it, hashed over the past, cried angry new tears. There are times when our tension turns even simple arguments into heated emotional tirades. Sometimes the past comes up when our discussions blow out of proportion, but most times it doesn't. She says she forgives me for it, but I don't think I've forgiven myself. I still have guilt and shame for how I treated my sister for all those years. I worry that things from way back when she was six still affect her at nearly-twenty-six. I fear she questions how things would have been different if we'd been different.

I'm thankful that my sister is a forgiving person. I'm thankful that we have been able to form a bond that should have started 26 years ago. I'm thankful that life experiences have become our great denominator and that we continually have new grounds on which to understand each other and to base our friendship. I just hope that someday I can be as forgiving of myself as she has been, and that the guilt can fade away and allow us to be closer.

I love you, Megan, and I'm proud to be your sister.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In a good place

30 Days of Truth, Day 02: Something you love about yourself

What I love about myself lately is that everything in my life is in a good place. Dan and I have a year of marriage under our belts. We are happy and in love, and have exciting things in our future. We're working on getting a pre-approval on our first home. We just bought our second vehicle together, and we are refinancing our first for a significant savings - and working together like pro's I might add!

My job, though not glamorous and often tedious and monotonous, is stable and my income is good. My boss appreciates my work and worked to get me a small raise recently. I feel like I really know what I'm doing and I'm confident in my skill set. I like (most of) my coworkers, and have a good little group of friends here at the office.

There really isn't anything in my life right now that isn't positive. I'm truly happy with how things are and excited about where things are going and for what's next in my life. It's honestly very nice to be me right now, and that's what I love about myself lately.

Giveaway #3 Winner

The random winner of the third and final giveaway - the $30 gift card to Sissy's Pretties - of Anniversary Week is.... #13...


Mrs. ESPN! Congratulations! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I will get you set up with Sissy's Pretties.

Thank you again to everyone for reading, entering the giveaways, and celebrating Anniversary Week with me! Thank you also to the awesome Etsy sellers, Michaelangela, Designs by Tami and Sissy's Pretties for sponsoring and supporting the giveaways!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Costly Truth

If you've been surfing around the blog world, you've seen the "30 Days of Truth" that's going around. I think it could be a very introspective and fun project, so here goes

Day 01: Something You Hate About Yourself

I hate that when I was younger, I was financially irresponsible. Like very irresponsible. I was one of the kids who went to college, was mailed my very first credit card, and things went down hill from there for the next 5 years. I racked up quite a bit of debt in a short period of time. It's not that my parents didn't warn me about credit cards, but I don't think they didn't realized what I was doing or the extent of it. When I had to come clean, I was bailed out, then did it again. It was embarrassing and stressful when creditors started calling.

Right before the end, I owed $1,200 in 10 days on two cards. I didn't know what to do. I turned to one of those credit counselors you see on TV. In hindsight, big mistake. But it I got on track. I settled my debts with the credit card companies, and faithfully made my monthly payment to the consolidator. I even paid it off a year and a half early.

Unfortunately, my past continues to follow me. The delinquent accounts are still on my credit report, still affecting my scores, and may inhibit me from buying the house we want. Even though I've been nothing but responsible for the last five years - I have to be, I have nothing but my paycheck to live off of - I am still paying for my mistakes as a 20-year-old. I've worked hard to build a safety net so that I don't have to fear something going wrong. Five years after my consolidation and with not a single new derogatory item on my report, I still can't get a major credit card company to have faith in me. It's a vicious cycle: I can't raise my score because I don't have the confidence of a major creditor, but I can't obtain credit without a higher score.

It affects how I see myself and how others see me. Not just potential creditors, but I feel like I get the side-eye when I buy something I've saved hard for and have budgeted for. I feel like I'm always under the microscope, and my purchases and expenditures are being tallied. In reality, I have a healthy amount of savings, an account I contribute 10% of my income to every month (not to mention my 401K contribution), and my husband and I live comfortably. We're clothed, fed, healthy, and happy.

I just wish I could tell my younger self to slow down, that the mistakes made will continue to have an impact for at least the next 10 years. I think it would be awesome to someday help young people obtain and keep healthy credit and not make my mistakes. I wish I could wash away this skeleton in my closet.

Giveaway #2 Winner

The winner of the gift certificate from Designs by Tami is....
Entry number 6...


Jenni! Congratulations, Jenni! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I'll get you set up with Tami.

Thanks all for entering and for reading. If you haven't yet, you can still enter Giveaway #3 here

Monday, October 18, 2010

Giveaway #1 Winner and the Anniversary Weekend

Thank you all for participating in the Michaelangela gift certificate giveaway - there were only entrants, so everyone had great chances. The lucky random winner of the Michaelangela is...



JMJE of Making Stuff is Fun! Congratulations, JMJE! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I'll get you set up with Michaelangela. Tomorrow, I'll announce the winner of the Designs by Tami giveaway so get entered if you haven't already.

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Our anniversary and Dan's birthday weekend was awesome. We celebrated his birthday with dinner Friday night. We went to Macayo's Mexican Grill where we had our rehearsal dinner exactly a year ago. We stayed up late and watched movies and hung out. Saturday was busy, busy, busy! I got up early and cleaned and organized and wrapped up cookies. Dan got up and packed up the car and took our stuff and the dogs to his parents' house. I went to my friend, Mrs. ESPN's daughter's soccer game. She played so well and it was fun to watch. I'm surprised I didn't lose my voice screaming and cheering for her. After the game, I picked up the anniversary cake and head to my in-law's house, where we ran last minute errands and picked up the rest of the food and drinks.

My parents and some of our friends came to my in-law's house to celebrate with us and it was such a fun night. It's always nice to see everyone, and yummy food and beverages always make for a good time. Somehow we managed to not take any pictures, though. Hrmph. But I gave Dan a gift card to get a helmet so he can ride the mountain bike he bought, along with the tiniest bike shorts you've ever seen. His reaction was awesome. And! We got... get this, I'm so excited about this... we got a CRICUT CAKE! As a gift from my parents! I'm so excited to use it to cut fondant and play with designs and stuff. It's going to be rad.



Yesterday, we hung out at my in-law's until the early afternoon, then packed all our stuff and the dogs back up and went home to go car shopping. Because, you know, Dan's old car got totaled in a hail storm so he needed something else. He got himself a really good deal on a Lexus IS300. The Altima gets hauled away today. It's been good to both of us, and I'm a little sad to see it go, but I think with the high mileage on it and some front-end work that it needed, the storm may have been a blessing in disguise.

So, yep, the banniverthday weekend is over, and it's back to the grind. Only 9 days to go until our Baltimore trip!